If you’re big avocado fans, you’re not alone. In recent decades the green delicacy has captured the hearts of many and found its way into a variety of dishes, snacks, smoothies and even desserts. Avocados are incredibly versatile, and its unique yet mild flavour lends itself to many recipes. Although they can also be enjoyed simply smashed up on a piece of toast!

In many respects, avocado is the perfect fruit. But one issue with avocados is the difficulty of picking good ones. How can you tell if the avocado is ripe enough? Some avocados appear to be slightly soft on the outside, only to be found to be hard as rock on the inside. What if the avocado is too ripe, and you don’t get a chance to use it before it goes bad?

What to look for when picking avocados

We feel your pain, and that is why we’ve decided to provide you with expert tips on how to pick the perfect avocados – ones that will not take a whole week to ripen or go bad within one day. Keep this list handy the next time you go to the grocery store!

Colour – Look for avocados that have a rich dark green colour – or even almost black. Avocados that are a lighter shade of green are likely unripe. Please note, though, that this advice applies to Hass avocados. Hass avocados make up the majority of avocados sold in Canada so you’re almost 100% safe with this tip – but if you happen to come across another variety, the colour may not tell the whole story.

Firmness – The firmness of the avocado will give you a hint about its state of ripeness. Make sure you don’t poke it with your fingers; instead, hold it in the palm of your hand and squeeze it gently. If it yields, it’s ripe. If it does not, it may need a few more days to ripen.

Stem – Turns out you can find out a lot about the state of an avocado from examining its stem. First, instead of pressing on the side of the avocado and risk bruising it, press down on the area near the stem. If you leave a dent, the avocado is likely overripe. But if it caves in slightly but retains its shape, the avocado is just ripe enough.

Another way to determine ripeness is trying to flick off the stem. If it does not come off easily, the avocado is unripe; if it comes off too easily and the flesh underneath is brown, the avocado is overripe; but if it comes off easily and the flesh is green – you’ve found a good avocado.

Bruising – If the avocado has large bruises, breaks in the skin or areas that are over-soft, avoid buying it! It is likely overripe, and you might have to toss it as soon as you slice it open.

Timing – When you are buying avocados, a good rule of thumb is to think of when you are planning to use them. If you’re planning to use them within the next 1-2 days, follow all the tips outlined above. But if you’re planning to wait a little longer, say 3-5 days, select ones that are still green and quite firm.

Still unripe? Some tips for ripening avocados

If you have accidentally bought unripe avocados, worry not! There are things you can do that will speed up the ripening process. If you happen to have a banana at home, place it along with the avocado in a brown paper bag. Bananas produce ethylene gas, which helps fruits ripen. The paper bag will trap the gas and make it more effective in the ripening process.

Another ethylene producing food is uncooked rice. Apparently, rice is good not just for drying phones that got wet, but also for ripening avocados! Leave an avocado in a bowl filled with uncooked rice and make sure it’s covered on all sides. A few days later, the avocado should be good to eat.

One last trick is perhaps the most obvious one. Place the avocado in the sun, and let sunlight work its magic. The warmth will help the avocado ripen quicker.

Now that your avocados are ripe, you can make yourself an avocado toast, slice them into a healthy quinoa bowl or make some tasty guacamole. Buen provecho!